Cross-posted at Blue Mass Group.
January 19, 2011
Martin Luther King Day is an opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments of a great man. It is also an opportunity to reflect upon the goals he worked toward throughout his life: justice, fairness and equity.
Those goals transcend all facets of life: job security and compensation, civil rights, education, and transportation.
American history is rife with transportation injustices, and Massachusetts is no exception. Today, just as in the 50's and 60's, transit-dependent riders in lower-income communities and communities of color are relegated to the back of the bus in terms of funding, prioritization, and service availability.
The Freedom Riders and bus boycotters of the civil rights era were out to make a point: the laws and local customs that enforced segregation were unjust, illegal and inequitable. In many cases, people of color simply attempting to ride a bus were imprisoned.
On November 2nd, Massachusetts residents will face three ballot questions that threaten to cut funding and services for our communities. Please vote NO on Questions 1, 2, and 3!
Question 1 hurts people
Question 1 would repeal the sales tax on alcohol, which is used to fund alcohol recovery and other health programs. If this ballot question is approved, it would give the alcohol industry a special tax break and eliminate much-needed funding for treatment and education programs benefitting over 100,000 residents. Everyday necessities like food and clothing are already exempt from the state sales tax. Please vote NO on Question 1—protect our services!
Question 2 hurts families
Question 2 would strike down our state’s primary affordable housing law, which provides affordable housing to senior citizens and working families. This law has been responsible for 80 percent of the public housing created in past decade. Repealing the law would hurt families and seniors already struggling with high rents and hurt workers by cutting construction jobs. Read more...
October 29, 2010
Wishing you all a happy Halloween!
September 20, 2010
Did you know that every gas and electric bill you pay includes a surcharge to make homes greener? In Boston, this surcharge goes into a fund for energy efficiency work throughout the city, but utility companies disproportionally spend the funds in wealthy neighborhoods. As a member of the citywide Green Justice Coalition (GJC), ACE is demanding that lower-income communities receive a fair shake.
So far, the utility companies that serve Massachusetts have promised that the surcharge will provide green jobs and serve 1.9 million Boston residents. However, they have refused to provide data on jobs creation and are over-stating the number of people helped by double-counting residents who have received multiple upgrades.
Using data from the Mass Save Program, the GJC has found that these services have been concentrated in higher-income communities and given to homeowners instead of renters. Read more...
July 13, 2010
July 8, 2010
By TJ Hellmann, Vice Chair, ACE Board of Directors
This article is appearing in our upcoming T Riders Union (TRU) Newsletter in Spanish
From June 22 to June 26, ACE Members involved with our T Riders’ Union (TRU) program traveled to Detroit, Michigan to participate in the United States Social Forum (USSF), along with more than 10,000 other people from around the country. The slogan of the forum was “Another World is Possible, Another US is Necessary.”
As people who depend on public transportation, we already know that the system has left us behind, without the resources we need to get ahead and, in many cases, frustrated at the difficult situations faced by our communities. Every time I board a 111 or 116/117 bus – overcrowded, behind schedule, and driven by someone who doesn’t respect the passengers – I know that I can’t sit back with my arms crossed and wait for change. That’s why I joined TRU five years ago. Read more...
June 21, 2010
More than 40 ACE members and organizers will be attending the US Social Forum (USSF) in Detroit this week to connect with people across the country working on issues like improving public transit, youth organizing and green jobs. The USSF is an incredible opportunity to share knowledge and strengthen a national movement for social and environmental justice.
Over the next five days, we will be participating in workshops and events, and holding spaces to foster dialogue and learning. REEP Youth will lead a workshop on transit justice at the Youth Space organized by the National Youth Working Group. Right to the City, a coalition that includes ACE, will hold an Urban Forum and a People’s Congress to discuss gentrification and displacement. We’ll also be connecting with other groups organizing for first class public transit to collaborate and share information on our campaigns.
The ACE crew is part of a 250 person contingent, including 150 youth, representing 32 organizations traveling together by bus to Detroit. Over the past few months, we’ve been preparing for our collective work and combining fundraising efforts to send folks to the forum. Read more...
June 14, 2010
Two weeks ago, we lost a beloved member of our community, Ivol Brown. Ivol was many things: A son and a brother. A parishioner and a student. An artist, a guide and an organizer. He was a questioner. He was an Ella and a Malcolm to be. He was 17.
Ivol’s life and death is a story of redemption cut painfully short. At age 14, he was thrown out of school for selling drugs. Shortly after, he was approached by a youth worker who offered him a job. He took the opportunity.
Three years later, he was working three jobs to help support his family, was active in his church and had taken a leadership role in the youth jobs campaign. Ivol believed deeply that every young person should have the opportunity to work for something they believed in, to turn their lives around the way he had.
ACE stands with Ivol, his family, his pastor, the Campaign to Save Youth Jobs and our partners (and his employers) YouthAim! and The City School. Our elected officials need to know that the time to fund youth employment is now, before any more lives are lost!
In 2002 and 2003, Massachusetts and the City of Boston made devastating cuts to youth employment, violence prevention and outreach programs. In 2006, the Boston City Council established what youth leaders had been saying for years: There is a strong correlation between the decrease in youth employment and the increase in shootings.
More than 700 young people, including youth from REEP and a dozen other organizations asked policy makers at a 2007 City Hall rally, "Who's Next?" In public hearings we pleaded, "Don't wait 'till we're dead!" As part of the United Youth and Youth Workers of Boston coalition, REEP youth helped restore several million dollars for youth employment. Still, the Commonwealth and the City refused to restore funding to the 2001 level.
June 11, 2010
Two weeks ago, Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) reform passed the House thanks to the tireless efforts of the Commonwealth CORI Coalition (CCC), an alliance of over 90 organizations working to end limitations on public housing, loans and employment for people with a CORI.
The reforms also received broad support from law enforcement agencies and Governor Patrick, who said in 2008, "CORI was never intended to turn every offense into a life sentence."
Passing these reforms means reduced crime, increased revenue and a second chance for many people. State spending on prison, probation and parole has been increasing while repeat offenses have also been rising. CORI reform is a departure from the "tough on crime" attitude to a "smart on crime" attitude. In both the House and Senate version of the bills (the Senate passed a reform bill in November), CORIs will now be sealed after five years for misdemeanors and after 10 years for felonies, reduced from 10 and 15 years respectively. Read more...
June 9, 2010
Check out this new video, from Brockton and West Bridgewater residents in the campaign against a proposed power plant. The plant would be located in a lower income community with one of the highest premature mortality rates in the state. Running on fossil fuel, it would spew toxic pollutants in the air that can lead to health problems such as asthma, birth defects, heart attacks, lung cancer and contribute to global warming. Read more...